INDIANAPOLIS — Scott Dixon has almost every accolade one could get at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Most laps led, fastest pole speed, you name it and he’s done it. While he has just one Indy 500 victory, he does have five poles though. That ranks him second on the all-time Indy 500 poles list. His next pole will tie him with Rick Mears for most all-time.
Does that come on Sunday?
“Yeah, that’s the goal,” he said on Fast Friday. “We’re here to try and capture the pole. If it’s not myself, hopefully it’s one of my teammates. I think the cars have definitely been very fast.
“As a team, I think the pole is a big deal. The amount of effort that goes into it and the small tweaks and adjustments and everything for this race, for this weekend for the pole is very special. So it’s very rewarding, and it’s always great for the team.
“I think last year to have all of us in the hunt for it was very special, as well, and I’d say kind of looking at the last couple of days, the car has definitely had speed. We’ll have to see if that plays true come tomorrow and Sunday.
“But yeah, it would be amazing.
“But for me the focus right now is to do the best we can to try and capture that pole.”
Dixon has won each of the last two poles for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and if he can win a pole again this weekend, it would not only tie him for first with Mears, but he’s also become the first driver to win the pole here in three consecutive years.
Mears won four in a six-year span (1986, 1988, 1989, 1991). Helio Castroneves won 3 of his 4 Indy poles in a four years span (2007, 2009, 2010). No one has done so consecutively.
He’s also qualified on the front row in three straight years though too as he was also the second qualifier in 2020.
Dixon also has to wonder what he ever did to piss this place off to give him so many poles but not wins. I mean legend states that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway picks its winners. For some reason, despite Scott Dixon becoming the all-time laps led leader in the 106-year history of this great event, second place on the all-time poles list (he has 5, Rick Mears has 6), he still sits here with just one lone Indy 500 victory (2008) in 20 tries.
He was fourth on the overall speed chart in 2021. He was in that exact same spot in 2022. He won the pole both years. As luck would have it, he was fourth on the open test speed chart last month.
Will that equate out to an Indy 500 pole this month?
He says it’s hard telling. There’s so many different testing plans and aero configurations that everyone kind of has their own plans and works as their own pace.
“I don’t know I think the biggest thing is to get through the new aero pieces,” Dixon said on if you can take anything away from the test in regards to May. “Just kind of tick all the boxes on that side of things. We’ve got our own test plan, test bench, dampers, all that kind of stuff that we kind of need to get some matrices done on those. Yeah, I don’t know. It’s kind of it’s an interesting day just because of the winds. So some of the stuff will be a little bit tough, especially this afternoon, but as always, it’s great to be back here and I could be wrong in some ways.”
I mean think about it, the car hasn’t changed much. The personnel mostly remains the same and if they change teams, they take secrets with them. That makes what Ganassi is doing even more impressive that they can remain on top with all these factors.
“Yeah, it’s a team effort,” Dixon told me. “You know, it’s every kind of department I think trying to get the most out of it our kind of our engineering group during a lot of homework in the offseason. Plus the addition you know, with your partners, right, you know, how do I know I’ve been digging real deep for qualifier speed, but also race, speed, drivability, all kinds of those things. “So you know, it’s never again, it’s never going to be 1,2,3,4 or five big things. It’s going to be hundreds of small things. And I think you know, this team last year the year before that, does that really well so you know, I know they haven’t made up so hopefully we can continue to have some great success here.”
Dixon keeps finding ways to lose here at that. He led 73 laps but finished runner-up to his Ganassi teammate of Dario Franchitti in 2009. He led 73 more laps in a 5th place run in 2011. In 2012, he led 53 laps but was runner-up again to Franchitti. He was on the pole and led 83 laps in 2015 but finished 4th. He won the pole in 2017 but had a frightening crash in Turn 1 that year and would come home 32nd. He led 111 laps in a runner-up effort in 2020, 7 laps from the pole in 2021 to where he was caught out by an ill timed first caution which saw his No. 9 Dallara-Honda having to do an emergency pit stop under a closed pit road and then stall as a result. He fell a lap down and would finish 17th.
Last year, he was 2nd in literally all but 1 practice session, qualified on the pole with a record setting pole lap and led 95 circuits before speeding on pit road for his final pit stop. That relegated him to 21st in the end.
Can Dixon finally pick up a second Indy 500 win?
It could start this weekend in qualifying.